U.S. Embassy Dhaka’s Public Diplomacy Section inaugurates the second-ever cohort of the AWE Program in Bangladesh.

The Public Affairs Counselor at the U.S. Embassy inaugurated the second cohort of the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) Program at the EMK Center in Dhaka.  AWE, a global initiative led by the U.S. Department of State, provides enterprising women with the knowledge, professional network, and foundational materials essential for launching and expanding successful businesses.

In collaboration with BRAC University’s Center for Entrepreneurship Development, U.S. Embassy Dhaka is deeply committed to supporting young aspiring women entrepreneurs, promoting small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and nurturing local women business leaders, especially those from historically underrepresented communities.

As a flagship program promoting entrepreneurship through increased trade, AWE aligns seamlessly with the U.S. Strategy of Global Women’s Economic Security, which envisions a world where women and girls from diverse backgrounds can fully, meaningfully, and equally contribute to and benefit from global economic growth and prosperity.

The second cohort of the AWE program is set to empower 90 participants from three distinct geographic locations: Dhaka, Chattogram, and Sylhet. Participants from Chattogram and Sylhet will join sessions at the EMK Center virtually through Zoom. The program’s goal this year is to recruit participants from historically underrepresented, indigenous, and minority communities, as well as women aged 20-45 who have traditionally been excluded from participation in formal training programs. As a U.S. government exchange initiative, AWE connects women with American learning and expertise, fostering stronger ties among women entrepreneurs across diverse American and Bangladeshi markets.

The AWE Program is in collaboration with Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management (ASU) and the Freeport-McMoRan Foundation, the creators of DreamBuilder—a no-cost online learning platform. This platform imparts fundamental business skills from a U.S. perspective and offers access to soft-skills training to enhance participants’ overall business acumen.

The AWE Program is a comprehensive three-month course tailored for aspiring women entrepreneurs.  The program provides hands-on training in Bangla conducted by industry experts, focusing on core business skills with an emphasis on sustainability.

AWE strongly emphasizes peer-to-peer learning, networking, and fostering cohesion among graduating women entrepreneurs, contributing significantly to local prosperity and business growth.  According to the 2021 evaluation by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), 74 percent of AWE graduates reported experiencing higher incomes, and 29 percent hired additional staff in their businesses post-program.  This data underscores the capacity of AWE alumni to generate revenue and create job opportunities in their communities.

By fundamentally empowering women, AWE actively promotes their full economic participation.  The study reveals that over 90 percent of AWE graduates reported increased confidence and higher self-esteem, attributing improvements to specific skill sets such as independent decision-making, strategic planning, and public speaking.  These skills have proven invaluable for women-led businesses adapting to economic challenges, including those posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.  The AWE project aligns directly with the U.S. National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality.

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